Full of devoted fans dressed in 'RKS' T-shirts, the crowd buzzed with excitement as they waited for Rainbow Kitten Surprise to enter Heaven on Halloween night.
This occasion was only the second time the band played in London, so most British fans were feverishly anticipating seeing them perform for the very first time. When the North Carolinian five-piece entered the stage the dancing, contained for so long, finally began. If the crowd lacked anything in Halloween attire, the musicians made up for it: frontman Sam Melo in a police uniform, bassist Charlie Holt in full mermaid-style sequin top with fishnets and drummer Jess Haney as a Ghostbuster.
The band's compact grooves and playful call-and-response crooning of Sam Melo lifted Heaven from the moment they entered the stage. Opening with the aptly titled 'Fever Pitch' off their latest album, their London show launched the band's first overseas tour. As a tribute to London, they performed Mr. Redundant live for the very first time, the second track from their 2013 debut LP features lyrics about Kings Cross Station and The Beatles. The performance left the London crowd energised and enthusiastic, eager to hear more.
The band quickly set the precedent for a show filled with sharp guitar solos, intense basslines and Sam Melo’s husky vocals. Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s unusual name was matched by the exceptional performance they put on. Sam twirled around on stage enthusiastically, letting his movements be taken over by the sound, and interacting with the other band members, while singing the bands genre-hopping songs. A vibrant mixture between indie rock, hip hop and folk, it is difficult to put RKS in a box or compare them to anyone else, and that is exactly what they stand for.
Heaven, a safe space for the LGBT+ community, was the ideal venue for the band to not only deliver an exceptional set, but also to tell their stories. “Being queer in the South, it’s like there’s a war against you”, declared Charlie Holt before the band played Holy War, a song from their latest album How to: Friend, Love, Freefall. The space, along with the meaning that the song holds for the members of the band, as well as some of the audience, made the multi-layered, eccentric tune all the more powerful.
Not only did the set showcase the highlights of all of the band’s three albums, but it also displayed the love and close relationship that the band members clearly share. The way they danced and interacted with each other was truly endearing, perfectly encapsulated when they played First Class, a carefree song which they introduced as “a song about friendship”.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise are idiosyncratic and energetic while also being down to earth and relatable. They are so refreshingly different that their next London show is a must-see for anyone.